Director of Media and Communications for the Big Tent coalition of political parties, social movements and civil society organizations for ObiDatti, Charles Odibo, in this interview with Udora Orizu, explains the essence of the Obidient mantra, “IT’S POssible,” and what it means to every progressive minded Nigerian.
Tell us about the Big Tent which is led by Professor Pat Utomi and the Coalition’s relationship with the Labour Party and its Presidential Campaign Council.
The Big-Tent Coalition for the ObiDatti Campaign led by Professor Pat Utomi, renowned activist and crusader for the common good, was created to harness the Obidient Movement’s Support Groups, 3rd Force coalitions, other Political Parties, individuals and Professionals in creating commitment and ownership of the Peter Obi project by those who don’t belong to Labour Party or any party.
We also harmonize, organize, support and coordinate Support Groups at the Polling Units, Wards and LGA levels to complement the Labour Party and Presidential Campaign Council efforts in canvassing, getting out the votes and protection of the votes.
Our door to door votes canvassing has also just begun. Big Tent, in addition, supports the Obi-Datti candidacy with key Professional Advisory in Policy Strategy Formulations for an effective issues based campaign. The BIG-TENT also has a policy strategy Think Tank group, and most importantly a complementary campaign structure.
In the Obi Movement, a common refrain in your communication is either “A New Nigeria is Possible” or simply, “IT’S Possible” which incidentally is the theme of the Peter Obi/Labour Party Manifesto. What informed this slogan?
“It’s Possible” is the central idea around which this never-been-seen before organic Obidient Movement is built. It speaks to the indomitable spirit of the nation’s vibrant youth who have chosen to take back their country, for good.
For us as an organization, what did we seek to accomplish in developing this slogan, which has turned out to be a strong battle cry?
As you know, our core audience are the Obidients (18 to 45 years, 71% of registered voters). They are also influencers and recruiters.
We recognized that the early biggest challenge that confronted the Obidients was not the sorry state of the nation. They know. It’s the sorry state that has made them to rally behind Obi and Datti as the men they trust who can turn the tide.
But it was the psychological warfare by those who live off our common heritage, insinuating that the ever growing movement could be a flash in the pan. Obidients needed to be re-assured.
So, above all, the slogan that must energise our base has to re-assure them to believe that this election is winnable; that it’s doable and achievable.
And it is working as you can see in the daily exponential growth of the organic movement. Then you look at the numbers.
In just three months – June to August last year, 12 million Nigerians, 8.8 million of them between 18 and 34 registered, majority of them just to vote for Obi.
Our mantra, “It’s Possible” also speaks to the innate human nature to overcome challenges in order to make dreams and aspirations come true. We all have dreams and hopes but the reality is that the obstacles to achieving them are evident. ObiDatti campaign is therefore admonishing all Obidients not to give up on their determined quest to take back Nigeria because Obi understands the journey through the maze of life and will guide us all to a new Nigeria that is possible.
But do you have any empirically verifiable evidence that this coming election can be won by the ObiDatti ticket?
Oh, sure. You don’t have to look too far. A vast majority of Nigerians who will decide who becomes Nigeria’s next President come February 25 have also emphatically stated their preference for the candidature of Peter Obi as results of five polls conducted by independent and credible pollsters between September and December 2022 have clearly shown that Obi has consistently been voted for in the surveys as the preferred choice of registered voters in the forthcoming 2023 election.
In a nutshell, based on empirical methodology used in five independent polls by four credible pollster institutions between September and December 2022, namely – ANAP/NOI; Bloomberg; We2gedaNG; and Nextier, Peter Obi, our Presidential candidate is in pole position to win the presidential election at the first ballot with a cumulative average of 41.5%, while Atiku Abubakar of PDP, Bola Tinubu of APC, and Rabiu Kwankwanso of NNPP follow behind in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th positions with 16.74%, 16.3%, and 2.7%, respectively.
A further deep-dive into the survey by the independent polling firms also show a uniform pattern of the poll results all of which conclusively showed that Obi is in commanding lead in the three geo-political zones of North Central, South-South, and South East respectively, while also maintaining a healthy second place in the South West and North East, slightly below Bola Tinubu of APC, and Atiku Abubakar of PDP, respectively.
So, tell us about the recently released “It’s Possible” radio campaign which is receiving rave reviews.
As the lyrics indicate, it speaks to the can-do spirit of the indomitable Obidients. It states that “it’s time to stand for what we believe; it’s time to stand with ObiDatti; we are saying it’s possible because if we start it, we can achieve it; all over Naija we say it’s possible. With ObiDatti, a new Naija is possible.”
Need I remind you that Nigeria is probably in the same type of dire straits as America was in 2008, when a young, largely unknown man with a funny name, Barack emerged.
Worse still he is a black man, whose stock is just about 3% of the US population. He understood he had no chance with the establishment so he knew he needed to expand the voting base to bring in the youth who are not swayed by tribe, colour or religion. He told them YES, WE CAN! It energized them. The rest is history.
Then, the recent case in nearby Kenya with William Ruto and his “Hustler Nation.”
In Kenya, hustlers refer to those – especially young people – who struggle to make ends meet in an economy that is said to be no longer working for them. He framed the election as between “Hustlers” and “Dynasties.”
It’s the same thing Obi is doing when he charges the youth that it is possible for them to take back their country because, according to him, “those people there, they don’t know you, they don’t care about you.”
Are you reasonably convinced that Nigerians trust Obi as the man they can rely on to improve their fortunes and make the country better?
Obi has shown in words and deeds that he can be trusted to keep to his words, in and out of office ever since he emerged in the public space.
His antecedents as a two-term Governor of Anambra state between 2006 and 2014 are clear testaments that he can be trusted, that he is committed, that he is competent, and above all, he is a man imbued with character, which is everything.
As Governor of Anambra State for eight years, some of his remarkable achievements included exemplary commitments to reforms and development.
Under him, Anambra state was rated the least indebted state in Nigeria by the Debt Management Office (DMO); Anambra was adjudged by the Federal Ministry of Works as the state with the best network of roads in the country having asphalted over 800 kilometres of roads; and he re-opened long-closed schools and returned Missionary schools to the original owners with a grant of N6 billion for their rehabilitation, distributing over 30,000 computers, internet access, Microsoft academies to over 500 schools.
Most remarkably, under the governance of Obi, Anambra state students for the first time achieved first place nationwide in the 2011, 2012, and 2013 WASSCE and NECO examinations; he ensured the payment of over N35 billion in outstanding pensions and gratuities in the state since 1999.
Obi’s greatest legacy in office was his financial prudence. He funded development projects without borrowing money from financial institutions nor raising bonds, and he handed over to his successor the sum of N75 billion in the form of cash, local, and foreign investments.